Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Michael Jackson memorial: Jermaine Jackson sings 'Smile'

July 7, 2009 | 12:09 pm


Pop & Hiss brings you quick thoughts on some of the main performances at Tuesday's Michael Jackson memorial.

What: Jermaine Jackson's "Smile."

A song that was nicely set up by actress Brooke Shields. Her speech will likely stand as one of the day's best, offering personal, humorous looks at the pop singer, as well as some touching insights. She would hold his hand, Shields noted, as long as it wasn't covered with Jackson's famed white sequined glove.

And his favorite song, Shields noted, was "Smile," a tune originally used in Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times." Michael covered the song on his 1995 double-disc set "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I."

Michael's brother Jermaine performed the song here immediately after Shields' speech. Ann Powers is inside the Staples Center.

"The older brother keeps his composure for the most part, the wobble in his voice echoing Michael's own, but during an a capella moment near the end, he almost loses it," Powers writes. "It's possible in this overwrought moment to see the lineage that extends from Louis Armstrong -- who also employed a very tricky smile -- to the man being celebrated here, as above all an African American icon. To feel the sorrow, compromise and determination behind every entertaining smile."

-- Ann Powers and Todd Martens

Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times